Hope for HIV Cure Increases as Child Remains Virus-Free Years After Treatment

A South African boy, who was thought to have been infected with HIV when he was born, has remained virus-free for 8 and a half years after treatment

The case study establishes that HIV may be controllable in other way than the usual daily and lifelong regimen of antiretroviral drugs.

“This is really the first step toward HIV remission and a cure. Understanding the factors that came into play to lead to this outcome is really going to inform science.” said Deborah Persaud, virologist at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore

From all the children in the world who are HIV-positive (millions), the boy who is now 9-years-old, is one of only 3 who have been identified as having the ability to stop the virus from coming back for a long period of time.

Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, kept both an optimist and cautious attitude when talking about the boy’s case. She preferred to say that the boy is in “remission” rather than cured, and noted that HIV tends to hide in “funny places” and that it is “Not entirely inconceivable”, which means that a small part of the virus may still be in the boy’s body, and may start replicating again.

“It is exciting to see this. It is encouraging to see a child going for such a long period of time without rebounding,” Fauci said. “But we don’t have the full answers to what this means yet.”

The boy drew the attention of researchers in 2008 through a study funded by the National Institute of Health.